Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-09-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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8 THE VALLEY APRIL 9-15, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION "Before all that work happens, I'm making breakfast for my kids, I'm set- ting my son up with his schoolwork, I'm figuring out who's using the com- puter and when," she said. Even with the challenges, she's been able to use this time as a learning experience and create unique oppor- tunities for her students. The coor- dinator of the school's online news- paper, Wicked Good News, Bodden said her students have begun a series of interviews with their peers about working on the front lines in grocery stores and nursing homes. Many of her students, she said, have continued to work during the pandemic, some- thing teachers need to be mindful of. "I'm trying to just keep really aware of individual student situations," she said. "I'm really being mindful of the sorts of things that I'm assigning and trying to have it be uplifting." It's not just classroom teachers who are being called on to step up. Heather Neil and Jessica Donato are blended learning coaches in Woonsocket, where their role prior to the pandemic was to help teachers incorporate technology in their class- rooms. Now, with every teacher using some level of technology to connect with students, they've found them- selves at the center of the district's response. "The whole district has our cell phone numbers," said Donato. In addition to offering sessions on how to use programs like Google Classroom, the coaches are usually the first ones teachers call when they have problems connecting with their students online and sometimes take calls from 5 in the morning until 10 at night. It's been a challenge for the women, both of whom have children trying to do their own virtual school- ing for other districts. "With mom attached to a screen all day and not really having a lot of time these days, I've gotten phone calls from the teachers about his assignments not being turned in," Neil said about her 10-year-old son. "It's been a struggle, and I'm sure it's like that for all parents who have to work while their kids are schooling." Alaina Charette, a reading and math specialist at Citizens Memorial Elementary School, has also been supporting teachers by filming videos of herself teaching lessons and post- ing them online. With most of the district's younger students receiving work in the form of paper packets during the first weeks of distance learning, the videos are an extra resource for students who may be struggling with some concepts. "A lot of the parents haven't been taught the way that the children are being taught nowadays, so the parents may not be able to help them," she said. Charette said she misses interacting with students and pretends the kids are in front of her when she teaches a lesson. The district's response to the pandemic, she said, is a team effort, a sentiment shared by Neil and Donato. "It takes a village, and I'm very happy to be part of this one," said Donato. LEARNING From Page One NORTH SMITHFIELD – In another world, Regina McAdam, chorus director at North Smithfield High School, might have spent last week with 200 teenagers on a bus to Virginia, where the school's music students were supposed to perform in a festival. Instead, she spent it online researching ways her students could sing together from home. "Obviously, teaching chorus vir- tually is not exactly ideal," she told The Valley Breeze. The current distance learning measures have offered a new chal- lenge for arts teachers who, though known for their creativity, have been forced to seek out innovative ways to continue teaching their stu- dents from home. In McAdam's case, those meth- ods include using software to have students record themselves sing- ing to ensure they're practicing from home. A bigger challenge has been finding ways to get the entire chorus singing together. While some schools – including Berklee's College of Music – have recorded virtual performances that later went viral, McAdam said the technol- ogy used to make those videos is expensive and requires professional expertise. Instead, she used free technology to compile a performance that she said was not quite the same sound quality, but still allowed students to sing together. This week, the department released its first vir- tual choir video, a recording of the chamber choir singing "Deep River." "In the end, you hear these kids with beautiful voices singing together collaboratively, and it's a good thing," she said. The new measures have also created some comical situations Teachers getting creative with the arts By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com Students from the NORTH SMITHFIELD HIGH SCHOOL CHAMBER CHOIR sing "Deep River" in a virtual choir performance compiled by chorus director Regina McAdam. As coronavirus measures keep them at home, teachers are finding cre- ative ways to keep their students connected to the arts. Continues on next page So many papers, so little investment. 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